THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR SCREENWRITERS: A Personal View


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I’m not Moses, but still, what the hell:
1.                  Thou shalt not read a book or attend a class or seminar on how to write a screenplay until you have written two, preferably three, screenplays.
2.                  The only exception to Commandment One is a book on formatting.  Thou shalt read a book on that subject and pay very close attention to it.
3.                  Thou shalt see a movie outside your comfort zone at least once a week (preferably more).  This means foreign films, classic films, historically important films, films made before you were born, etc.
4.                  Thou shalt have a vision for your screenplay, a reason for its existence, even if you are writing it for filthy lucre; and thou shalt understand that you create the vision for the screenplay, not the director or producer.
5.                  Thou shalt also realize that though you do create the vision of the movie and are the cornerstone of any film, thou shalt be treated worse than anybody else. 
6.                  Thou shalt remember that stories should be character driven, not plot and concept driven, even when they are plot and concept driven.
7.                  Thou shalt not paint a picture of any scene, but give a reader just enough information that they may be able to paint the picture for themselves.
8.                  Thou shalt understand that action/chase/fights scenes are not the same thing as plot; formula is not the same thing as structure; and character description is not the same thing as character.
9.                  Thou shalt always seek out feedback and understand that what distinguishes a good writer from a bad writer is rewriting.
10.              Thou shalt understand that there are no rules and that what rules there are shalt be broken; that when something becomes the thing to do, it is time to do something totally different; and that there are exceptions to everything.

 

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